Advent with Revelation (Ch. 18)
December 15, 2021
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.


Chapter 18 (Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent)

After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority; and the earth was made bright with his splendour. He called out with a mighty voice,
‘Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!
   It has become a dwelling-place of demons,
a haunt of every foul spirit,
   a haunt of every foul bird,
   a haunt of every foul and hateful beast.
For all the nations have drunk
   of the wine of the wrath of her fornication,
and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her,
   and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxury.’

Then I heard another voice from heaven saying,
‘Come out of her, my people,
   so that you do not take part in her sins,
and so that you do not share in her plagues;
for her sins are heaped high as heaven,
   and God has remembered her iniquities.
Render to her as she herself has rendered,
   and repay her double for her deeds;
   mix a double draught for her in the cup she mixed.
As she glorified herself and lived luxuriously,
   so give her a like measure of torment and grief.
Since in her heart she says,
   “I rule as a queen;
I am no widow,
   and I will never see grief”,
therefore her plagues will come in a single day—
   pestilence and mourning and famine—
and she will be burned with fire;
   for mighty is the Lord God who judges her.’

And the kings of the earth, who committed fornication and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning; they will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say,
‘Alas, alas, the great city,
   Babylon, the mighty city!
For in one hour your judgement has come.’

And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo any more, cargo of gold, silver, jewels and pearls, fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet, all kinds of scented wood, all articles of ivory, all articles of costly wood, bronze, iron, and marble, cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, olive oil, choice flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, slaves—and human lives.
‘The fruit for which your soul longed
   has gone from you,
and all your dainties and your splendour
   are lost to you,
   never to be found again!’
The merchants of these wares, who gained wealth from her, will stand far off, in fear of her torment, weeping and mourning aloud,
‘Alas, alas, the great city,
   clothed in fine linen,
     in purple and scarlet,
   adorned with gold,
     with jewels, and with pearls!
For in one hour all this wealth has been laid waste!’

And all shipmasters and seafarers, sailors and all whose trade is on the sea, stood far off and cried out as they saw the smoke of her burning,
‘What city was like the great city?’
And they threw dust on their heads, as they wept and mourned, crying out,
‘Alas, alas, the great city,
   where all who had ships at sea
   grew rich by her wealth!
For in one hour she has been laid waste.’

Rejoice over her, O heaven, you saints and apostles and prophets! For God has given judgement for you against her.

Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying,
‘With such violence Babylon the great city
   will be thrown down,
   and will be found no more;
and the sound of harpists and minstrels and of flautists and trumpeters
   will be heard in you no more;
and an artisan of any trade
   will be found in you no more;
and the sound of the millstone
   will be heard in you no more;
and the light of a lamp
   will shine in you no more;
and the voice of bridegroom and bride
   will be heard in you no more;
for your merchants were the magnates of the earth,
   and all nations were deceived by your sorcery.
And in you was found the blood of prophets and of saints,
   and of all who have been slaughtered on earth.’


In the Revelation of John, the order of these [end] times is spread out to view, which “the souls of the martyrs” are taught to wait for beneath the altar, whilst they earnestly pray to be avenged and judged: (taught, I say, to wait), in order that the world may first drink to the dregs the plagues that await it out of the vials of the angels, and that the city of fornication may receive from the ten kings its deserved doom, and that the beast Antichrist with his false prophet may wage war on the Church of God; and that, after the casting of the devil into the bottomless pit for a while, the blessed prerogative of the first resurrection may be ordained from the thrones; and then again, after the consignment of him to the fire, that the judgment of the final and universal resurrection may be determined out of the books. Since, then, the Scriptures both indicate the stages of the last times, and concentrate the harvest of the Christian hope in the very end of the world, it is evident, either that all which God promises to us receives its accomplishment then. (Tertullian of Carthage)

It seems to be somehow contrary to the interprétation concerning this by the ancient teachers of the Church, who spoke against making an analogy of Babylon with the Romans by thèse things being prophesied on account of the fourth beast with the ten horns that had been seen, that is in the rule of the Romans, and from her (Babylon) the one sprouted uprooting the three and subjugating the rest, and to come as a king of the Romans, on the one hand coming on the pretext of fostering and organizing their rule, and on the other hand (coming) to work in reality toward the perfect dissolution. Wherefore, as it is said, someone who would truly take this to mean this (Roman) kingdom originally in one unit that has ruled until now, that poured out the blood of the apostles and prophets and martyrs, would not be led astray from what is appropriate. For just as also this is said about one chorus and one army and one city even if they exchange each of those (individuals) constituting them, likewise in the same way the kingdom is one, even though in many times and places it is divided. Daniel also previously saw thèse "ten horns" of the Antichrist. After the accursed one has uprooted three he will make the rest subject to him. (Andrew of Caesarea)

Observe that every single person of those who lament, weeps not only for the loss of riches, but for the sudden and unforeseen ruin of the deceitful world. (St. Bede the Venerable)

Musical Selections

Væ, væ civitas magna quia in corde suo dicit sedeo regina et vidua non sum et luctum non videbo.  Ideo in una die venient plagae eius mors et fames, et igne comburetur.  Væ, væ civitas illa magna Babylon, civitas illa fortis, quoniam in una hora venit iudicium tuum. Cecidit, cecidit Babylon magna et facta est habitatio dæmoniorum quia de vino iræ fornicationis eius biberunt omnes gentes et reges terrae cum illa scortati sunt et mercatores terræ de virtute deliciarum eius divites facti sunt.

Væ, væ civitas illa magna quæ amicta erat bysso, et purpura et deaurata erat auro. Post hac vox citharoedorum et musicorum atque tuba canentium non audietur in te amplius: quia mercatores tui erant principes terræ, et in veneficiis tuis erraverunt omnes gentes. Et sanguis Prophetarum et Sanctorum in te inventus est.

Alas, alas, Babylon, that great city! For she saith in her heart, I sit a queen; and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.  Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire. Alas, alas, that great city, Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour is thy judgment come. Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.

Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and decked with gold.  After these things the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth, and by thy sorceries were all nations deceived: and the blood of prophets, and of saints was found in thee.  

O vox nimium tremenda! Vox horrenda Creatoris
judicantis, peccatores condemnantis!

O voice, dreadful beyond measure! Terrible
voice of the Creator who judgeth and condemneth
the sinners!

Bring us, O Lord God, at our last awakening
Into the house and gate of heaven.
To enter that gate and dwell in that house,
Where there shall be no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light;
No noise nor silence, but one equal music;
No fears nor hopes, but one equal possession;
No ends nor beginnings, but one equal eternity;
In the habitation of thy glory and dominion,
World without end, Amen. (John Donne)


Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that the coming solemnity of your Son
may bestow healing upon us in this present life
and bring us the rewards of life eternal.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever
. Amen.